I got off to a bad start because I was offended by the pretense that this really happened. I know that all fiction pretends to be true. But this book I got off to a bad start because I was offended by the pretense that this really happened. I know that all fiction pretends to be true. But this book started off with an author explaining how he met Pi and learned this story and wrote this book. It just put me off.
This was tougher read than I was expecting for a popular book. The middle boggs down a lot. It is really boring to be lost at sea. But it picks up a bit at the end.
This is a religious book, in a non-denominational way. The main character is a practicing: Hindu, Catholic, and Muslim. People from all three faith keep telling him that he isn't supposed to do that. But he does it anyway. And his faith does comfort him in his ordeal. As a Wiccan I'm OK with that. I can really relate to the Hinduism.
The theme, as opposed to the plot, is that religion is a better story than dry, yeastless factuality. Although he does praise Atheists, over Agnostics, as at least having faith in something. Although I doubt any Atheist would thank him for that. Ironically, Atheists like to think that they are strong in their faith in the non-existence of God and would never sincerely convert in times of stress. I think he got Atheists and Agnostics backwards.
"I can well imagine an atheist's last words: "White, white! L-L-Love! My God!"-- and the deathbed leap of faith. Whereas the agnostic, if he stays true to his reasonable self, if he stays beholden to dry, yeastless factuality, might try to explain the warm light bathing him by saying, "Possibly a f-f-failing oxygenation of the b-b-brain, " and to the very end, lack imagination and miss the better story." (p 64)
"To look out with idle hope is tantamount to dreaming one's life away." (p 169)
"Doesn't the telling of something always become a story" "The world isn't just the way it is. it is how we understand it, no? And in understanding something, we bring something to it, no? Doesn't that make it life a story?" (p302)
"I know what you want. You want a story that won't surprise you. That will confirm what you already know. That won't make you see higher or further or differently. You want a flat story. An immobile story. You want dry yeastless factuality." (p302)
"So tell me, since it makes no factual difference to you and you can't prove the question either way, which story do you prefer? Which is the better story, the story with the animals or the story without animals?" "And so it goes with God." (p 317)
"If we, citizens, do not support our artists, then we sacrifice our imagination on the altar of crude reality and we end up believing in nothing and having worthless dreams." (p xii)
"Sometimes I got my majors mixed up. A number of my fellow religious-studies students--muddled agnostics who didn't know which way was up, who were in the thrall of reason, that fool's gold for the bright--reminded me of the three-toed sloth; and the three-toed sloth, such a beautiful example of the miracle of life, reminded me of God" (p 5)
"But religion is more than rite and ritual. There is what the rite and ritual stand for. Here too I am a Hindu. The universe makes sense to me through Hindu eyes, There is Brahman, the world soul, the sustaining frame upon which is woven, warp and weft, the cloth of being, with all its decorative elements of space and time. There is Brahman nirguna, without qualities, which lies beyond understanding, beyond description, beyond approach; with our poor words we sew a suit for it--One, Truth, Unity, Absolute, Ultimate Reality, Ground of Being--and try to make it fit, but Brahman nirguna always bursts the seams. We are left speechless. But there is also Brahman saguna, with qualities, where the suit fits. Now we call it Shiva, Krishna, Shakti, Ganesha; we can discern certain attributes--loving, merciful, frightening--and we feel the gentle pull of relationship. Brahman saguna is Brahman made manifest to our limited senses, Brahman expressed not only in gods but in humans, animals, trees, in a handful of earth, for everything has a trace of the divine in it. The truth of life is that Brahman is no different from atman, the spiritual force within us, what you might call the soul. The individual soul touches upon the world soul like a well reaches for the water table. That which sustains the universe beyond thought and language, and that which is at the core of us and struggles for expression, is the same thing. The finite within the the infinite, the infinite within the finite." (pp 48-49)
"People move because of the wear and tear of anxiety. Because of the gnawing feeling that no matter how hard they work their efforts will yield nothing, that what they build up in one year will be torn down in one day by others, Because of the impression that the future is blocked up, that they might do all right but not their children. Because of the feeling that nothing will change, that happiness and prosperity are possible only somewhere else." (p 79)...more
A bit dated, but so is anything written nowadays that includes computers.
The issues are not so dated. Johnny's parents are breaking up, there is warA bit dated, but so is anything written nowadays that includes computers.
The issues are not so dated. Johnny's parents are breaking up, there is war going on far away, there is poverty and racism. Johnny just wants to do the right thing in a complicated world.
The major theme of the book is how we treat war like a game when we shouldn't because it involves real people's lives. On the other hand having rules for war keeps us from being the worst that we can be. We are complicated like that. Johnny manages to do the right thing by caring about people....more
Many women have left the Cities and live in the wilderness in harmony with nature through their psychic powers. They canA lesbian separatist utopia.
Many women have left the Cities and live in the wilderness in harmony with nature through their psychic powers. They can communicate telepathically, monitor the borders at a distance, heal, fly, levitate objects, and reproduce without men.
Men cannot enter the women's land without dying, and cannot even leave the cities without becoming impotent. Also machines and guns won't work outside of the cities. There are some women still in the cites but they are brutally oppressed by the men. There are a few men who are a little bit psychic and not violent, they try to help the women but do not live with them, They are called Gentles.
I can see where people get the idea that lesbians hate men. The basic premiss of the story is that men are inherently violent and it is impossible for women and men to live, work, or love together, and the earth is going to die unless the men are killed, or change. There is some lip-service given to the idea that not all men are awful all the time, and maybe men can change. But overall it is very anti-male.
The female society she creates is a lot like the one in Ursula LeQuin's "Always Coming Home". Only that society included men.
The women are presented realistically, they are not saints, and the depiction of the psychic powers is unique and vivid. It takes up most of the book.
I'm not a man so I was not put off by the anti-male anger. I understand where it comes from and I can let it go. I don't feel that way about men but I understand why some women do. But most men will have trouble enjoying this book.
EDIT: Looking over the other reviews:
Christy is right about this being a period piece and advocating an essentialist view of feminism. I wrote my Women's Studies paper on the Essentialist and the Egalitarian branches of Feminism. There is a compromise between pretending there is no difference between men and women and insisting that all women share an essential feminine nature (and all men have an essentially masculine nature). Estrogen and testosterone do make a difference. Femininity and masculinity are real. But it is too simple to say that all women are feminine and all men are masculine. Even in the eighties I got in trouble in women's groups for being "too masculine".
This book does not really have a plot. It is a series of vignettes. I read that as a deliberate decision to abandon masculine linear narrative for a more feminine enfolding. (see Monique Wittig for more of this sort of feminine narrative.)
Two common complaints in the other review are: the spiritual tone, and the failure to explain how the psychic powers work. I believe these two complaints are related. What people are reading as "spiritual" is meant to be taken literately. (As in the movie Avatar.) The power of the women comes from the earth. The Consciousness of the Earth awoke and granted these powers to those women who could receive them. The women's powers come from the whole conscious biosphere and all the living creatures they connect with. But the women do not totally understand their own powers. The women know they can do some things but they don't know why the men can't leave the cities. The major plot point (such as it is) of the book is that the Gentles (the gentle men) have discovered that the mere presence of empowered women suppresses the violence (and technology) of men. This (beginnings of a) plot point occurs at the end of the book, along with the revelation that the Gentles can communicate psychically when working together. I would have liked to see these two revelations explored in greater detail. The end felt like the first book of a trilogy. ...more
I am a Pratchett Fanatic. I buy all his books. This one is near the top of my list of favorite Pratchett books. I recommend it to everyone.[return][reI am a Pratchett Fanatic. I buy all his books. This one is near the top of my list of favorite Pratchett books. I recommend it to everyone.[return][return]I describe it as The Catholic Church meets the Golden Age of Greece. The Catholic Church is represented by the Omnian Religion, Brutha, and the Great God Om (in the shape of a turtle). The Omnians believe that the Great God Om is the only True God and that the world is a sphere. The problem is that they are wrong on both points. There in fact lots of gods and their world is a flat disk on the back of four elephants on the back of a turtle. [return][return]Golden Age of Greece is represented by Ephebe . The Ephebians recognize many gods and have a lot of philosophers running around the streets looking for towels. [return][return]"Chain letters," said the Tyrant. "The Chain Letter to the Ephebians. Forget Your Gods. Be Subjugated. Learn to Fear. Do not break the chain -- the last people who did woke up one morning to find fifty thousand armed men on their lawn."[return][return]"That's why it's always worth having a few philosophers around the place. One minute it's all Is Truth Beauty and Is Beauty Truth, and Does A Falling Tree in the Forest Make A Sound if There's No one There to Hear It, and then just when you think they're going to start dribbling one of 'em says, Incidentally, putting a thirty-foot parabolic reflector on a high place to shoot the rays of the sun at an enemy's ships would be a very interesting demonstration of optical principles."[return][return]It is a wonderful book that has a lot to say about organized religion and gods. And most of it is true....more
Danny Dragonbreath and his best friend Wendell find a bat in the public swimming pools and take it to Danny's cousin Steve in the jungles of Mexico. WDanny Dragonbreath and his best friend Wendell find a bat in the public swimming pools and take it to Danny's cousin Steve in the jungles of Mexico. Where they learn more than Wendell wants to know about bats and jungle life. [return][return]This the fourth book in the Dragonbreath series. It continues to be entertaining. Danny is indefatigable in his imagination and enthusiasm for adventure and always to manages to drag Wendell into trouble with him. [return][return]The whimsical plot and clear illustrations will keep the attention of young readers. But the humor will also keep adults entertained through repeated readings....more
Brian Froud illustrates Joni Mitchell's lyrics. The book includes a CD of the song sung by Joni Mitchell. [return][return]The illustrations are brightBrian Froud illustrates Joni Mitchell's lyrics. The book includes a CD of the song sung by Joni Mitchell. [return][return]The illustrations are bright show Froud's usual whimsy. A good book to read along with the song....more